Don't Look Back

John Telgren

I was excited in my last year at Harding to discover that one of my childhood friends, Shawn, was coming in order to train for ministry. His Dad, Verlin, had died a year earlier and had spoken some inspiring words to his family on his deathbed. I wasn't there that day, but my wife was. She flew Jacob, Verlin's grandson, down to Saint Louis to be with Verlin at the hospital. All of the family was there. Scott, his oldest son had decided to rededicate himself after the speech Verlin gave. Shawn decided to go into full-time ministry. I wasn't aware of this until I receive a phone call from Shawn a month before he moved to Searcy. His wife, Suzie, enrolled in the university as an education major while Shawn was in the Bible program.

They were there for only a semester. Shawn began to realize how much of a sacrifice ministry was going to be. He had sold his house and left his job in order to come to Harding. I remember going to his house many times to encourage, pray for, and just be friends with Shawn and Suzie. Jacob was Jeremy's age and the two of them liked to play together. However, Shawn became very unhappy and eventually angry at the decision he made. He couldn't believe he sold his house and gave up a great job in order to go to school. Eventually, Shawn dropped out and went back to Plattsmouth, where he grew up. Last I heard, he managed to get his old job back and moved into a house just a few houses down from where he was before. For a short time, he attended worship and bible classes, but used to comment about how there was "too much religion" in Searcy. He fell away from the church, from God, and from any semblance of Christianity. He got involved in alcohol and a number of other things. His marriage has been off and on and their finances had suffered to the point that they lost their house and had to move into an apartment. The last time I was in town, I stopped by to visit, and the man I saw was so different than the man I once knew.

About our commitment, Jesus said this, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk 9:62). Sadly, I saw an illustration of this in the life of my childhood friend. He kept looking back, and got completely off track to the point he started to go backwards. Not only did his leave ministry, he eventually left God.

Being a disciple of Christ is rooted in Christ and his unfolding plan for the future. In fact, the entire Bible is forward oriented. Once we make the decision to follow Christ, and put our hands to the plow, we continue forward in faith, resolution, determination, and perseverance. In the end, there will be a reward, a harvest waiting for that the Lord will grant to us. To be a disciple of Christ, we need to press on as Christ did until our work is finished.